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Take it outside!

field of lavendarWith this edition of Soul Notes, I invite you to take a soul soother – a soulful sojourn. It’s time to enjoy the wonder of the great outdoors!

Now, before you picture yourself out frolicking in a field of daisies or lavender (oh, wait, that does seem pretty nice, doesn’t it?) – by outdoors, I simply mean, out of the doors – beyond the four walls likely surrounding you at this very moment.

Outside: It does a body (and soul)  good!

“Outside” needn’t mean that you ought to be headed out into the wilderness, with a Swiss army knife, a compass, and a portable stove. And, it needn’t mean that you’re going to be hanging from a rock ledge, suspended mid-air over the Grand Canyon. Okay, yes — it could be that, if that’s your pleasure!

It may just as well be in an urban setting. How about taking a walk along the storefronts? Or, how about sitting on a bench in a nearby courtyard or city park – between and among the office buildings?

The suggestion here is this: Find a way to get OUTSIDE!

Here’s a wild thought – how about going outside WITHOUT your laptop computer or tablet or smartphone? (Okay, well maybe not until you finish reading this edition of Soul Notes. I know, I know, the irony!) I suppose you could bring your electronic devices with you, if you must; although, I dare say that would kind of be “missing the point”! Stay present. Tap into your spirit – hear what your soul has to say! Enjoy all of the landscape! Observe. Be.

What do you notice?

Invoke your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What does the air feel like? What do you notice about the energy outside – is it vibrant? Intense? Still? Serene?

Change of perspective

It’s helpful to gain a change in perspective. Yes, your literal perspective will often impact your virtual one.   For example, as a member of a Los Angeles area bicycle club, I joined in group rides throughout various Southland neighborhoods.   One weekend, we cycled from West L.A. to the heart of Orange County, traveling along the L.A. river, and at times weaving our way through traffic to the Crystal Cathedral and back.

I’ve also spent three weeks bicycling through the hills and dales of County Cork in Ireland, engulfed by gale force winds, and pouring rain (along with some sparkling sunshine)!

Venturing out on a bicycle provides an entirely different vantage point.

Getting outside, up and out and away from our usual cooped up confines creates spaciousness and a renewed appreciation for what lies beyond the four walls. It tends to get the blood flowing. It often allows you to stretch your body, your mind, and even your eyeballs.

Wide open spaces

The sky is a really big place…especially when you’re in it!

Yes, that’s me skydiving above Southern California. That’s when I realized that the sky truly is a very big place!

Yes, that’s me skydiving above Southern California. That’s when I realized that the sky truly is a very big place!

If you have ever leapt out the side of an airplane from two-and-a-half miles up, you likely know what I mean. During a tandem skydive, my instructor and I plummeted toward the surface of the planet at 125 miles per hour, pulled the rip cord on the parachute, and floated to safety as we eventually put our feet back on terra firma. Throughout the jump, I distinctly recall feeling wildly free and in awe at just how truly expansive is the world that surrounds each of us. From time to time, we may only need a gentle reminder!

Ceremonies in the Park

If you’re like most modern workers, for a good portion of the week, you’re proverbially tied to a desk, hunched over a computer within a cubicle, or hunkered down in some other type of restrictive office space.   On days on end some workers may even remain inside from dawn until dusk. Or, if they are out and about at some point during the day, they are scurrying from one place to the next, often in a car or on some form of mass transit.

This weekend, I’m holding another one of my Full Moon and Water Meditation ceremonies. By design, I lead these women’s circles at a local park. My circle participants often remark at how much they appreciate being outside. They relish the opportunity to leave their work concerns behind, and head out into open spaces for the chance to commune with others and with Spirit out in nature.   Feelings of disconnection turn to feelings of connection.

During the next few days, I encourage you to release yourself from the usual grind, and rekindle your soul!

Feel the ground beneath your feet. Listen for the crunch of gravel or pine needles. Look for cloud formations, feel the breezes, bask in the sunshine or moonshine casting a glow or shadows on objects in your path, along your way.

This month the full moon is a SUPER one (meaning it’s especially close to the Earth). This  supermoon makes for an even greater gravitational pull. Be cognizant of the extra power of this August full moon.   I say we go outside and experience it.  See you outside!

Okay, your turn:

When is the last time you consciously enjoyed the outdoors? In what ways did it shift your mood?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below.  Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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The Sacred Art of Ceremony

The Sacred Art of Ceremony

In this edition of Soul ceremony-Notes we explore the meaning and depth of the sacred art of ceremony.


The word ceremony comes from the root, ceres, meaning: creator.  Many modern day ceremonies date back to ancient times, and are said to stem from sacred rites performed in honor of the Creator.  Additionally, they often involve certain formal activities, acts, or rituals.  They may or may not be tied to religious functions or precepts.  With or without a religious tie-in, there is a prevailing sacredness to ceremony.

Types of Ceremonies:  Some familiar, some maybe not so familiar

Across various cultures, we can all picture a number of ceremonies that come to mind.  For example:  graduation ceremonies, weddings, funerals, “swearing in” ceremonies, and initiation ceremonies.  Others may be unique to a particular culture or region, such as the Japanese Tea ceremony.  As a Keeper of the Water apprentice, I’ve been trained to lead Full Moon and Sacred Water Meditation ceremonies, as part of an ancient Native American practice, handed down through the generations.  All ceremonies carry with them, and bring forward, meaningful traditions.

Common Elements

What do all these ceremonies tend to have in common?  With each, there’s a certain set of formalities, guidelines, and structure to follow.  These aspects allow you to know that you’re taking part in a ceremony, as opposed to a more ‘ordinary’ event.  There’s a devout reverence, and honoring that takes place.  It often serves as a marker of some sort, in one’s life.  Emotions generally run high and deep.

Often, there is also a “setting of the scene” with the placement and invocation of sacred objects.  These sacred objects are often blessed and used solely for the purpose of ceremony.  When not brought forth for ceremony, they are usually held in a safe, sacred space until needed.

The Role of a Ceremonialist

Another distinction of ceremonies is that they are led, governed, presided over, or facilitated by someone designated or chosen to do so.  Often, it’s the ceremonialist who proclaims and maintains the intention for a particular ceremony.  As I’ve been taught, it’s important for the ceremonialist to set aside ego, and allow the heart to take center stage.  Additionally, the ceremony leader’s role is to ensure an atmosphere of reverence, safety and security for those who are participating and are in attendance. With compassion, the ceremony leader creates and maintains a sacred (metaphysical) container to hold a spiritual space and environment. The physical and the metaphysical are very much connected.  It’s really about embracing and maintaining divine presence for all involved.  It’s essential that the ceremony leader allow for the varying energies to move through in a way that is attentive, respectful, and connected to the heart, spirit and soul.  Those who are participating in and witnessing the ceremony can feel it!

A friend’s wedding

This past weekend, a friend and I hit the highway, and took a road trip to attend a mutual friend’s wedding.  As with many weddings, on this occasion, friends and family members gathered from near and far, to witness the marriage of two people special in all of our lives, and dear to every one of  us.  As the priest explained to those of us in attendance, our very being there added a beautiful and essential element.  Our presence served in effect as an extension of their love.  There were smiles all around when he said that!   There’s a beauty in the witnessing of a sacred union, and in a commemoration of a solemn commitment.

There’s also something beautiful and touching about seeing multiple generations coming together for such an occasion.  I marveled at the sight of the grandmothers, with the wisdom of their years, sitting alongside nieces and nephews with their young eagerness, excitement, and dare I say slight perplexity and overall wonderment about the whole experience!

I was also struck by the solemnity and juxtaposition of another friend having just flown in from attending a loved one’s funeral, making it in time to attend this wedding, an event that of course had been planned for months.   So raw.  So emotional.  So pure.  Facades, if any, were removed.  “All that really matters” is what came to the forefront, and in clear focus.

Why are Ceremonies so Important?

Ceremonies serve as a marker.  They commemorate and punctuate the occasion.  They lend it grandeur, a sense of awe, and solemnity.  Ceremonies and all that they entail lend texture, context, and richness to our lives.  I love them!

For your consideration:

I welcome you to take a moment to reflect on your own life.  To what kinds of ceremonies are you most drawn?  For you, what makes a ceremony a “ceremony,” as opposed to some other type of event or happening?

Okay, your turn:

When is the last time you participated in ceremony?  Or, what is the most memorable ceremony you can recall?  What made these experiences so special?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.